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Reflections 2011
Series 25
October 22
North Coast I: To the North Coast - Formation of Canada

 

To the North Coast   A year ago, in late summer, I checked my to-do list, and found I’d added to it some time ago to go to Churchill, Manitoba, on Hudson Bay. What draws most people to Churchill is seeing the polar bears moving out from land to ice as Hudson Bay freezes. I’m interested in that, too, but that alone wouldn’t get me up there, quite frankly, especially since so many people now fly up from Winnipeg--zip in, zip out--like landing on earth from a spaceship to watch some white creatures moving about, and then flying back to the mother planet. No, long ago, a rail line was built up from Winnipeg to Churchill, one that takes two nights’ travel. To me, the way to do it is to go up by train for two nights, stay in Churchill four nights, and then take the train back to Winnipeg for two nights. Second choice is the same, but using the train just one way, and flying the other. I don’t think that anyone flying in gets enough of the feel of where they are, and how far north they are. To the argument that someone doesn’t have enough time--making it a ten-day trip would be nice--then I say wait until you do and don’t spoil a wonderful destination.

 
 

Of course, I always like to make a good trip just a little more spectacular and do it REALLY right. Therefore, I’m going from New York on the east coast of North America to Churchill on the north coast of North America entirely by train. I’m taking a little over two weeks using three trains from New York to Churchill and then three trains back, with stops in Toronto and Winnipeg each way. That way I’ll get the feeling of distance and enjoy the change in landscape all the way.

 
 

That’s what I pretty much did in Australia last year. I went to each coast leisurely by train: west coast-Perth; north coast-Darwin; south coast-Adelaide and Melbourne; east coast-Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns. But that got me thinking. Australia’s pretty much a rectangle, with four directional coasts. North America’s shape, as seen in this satellite image defies definition. Perhaps describing it as an amoeba is best. How do you get four sides to an amoeba? It’s pushing the envelope to call it X-shaped. Are the two areas around Hudson Bay two upheld arms, one fat, one thinner? Is Florida one tiny leg and Mexico and Central America one huge leg pulled under the center? Maybe we should take another look at that amoeba.

 
 

Let’s compare North America’s coasts with train trips. I’ve been to the west coast of North America in trains arriving in (or departing from) Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Prince Rupert in northern BC, and even Skagway, Alaska. The east coast is also easy: Miami, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Portland, Halifax. But the difficulty arises with the south coast. Does North America have a south coast? If you count the eastern US as having finality in what we call the Gulf Coast, then I’ve taken trains to New Orleans and to Tampa. If you want to count Mexico’s Pacific Coast as the south coast, then the Copper Canyon train went from, then to, Los Mochis. But the last word on coasts involves the fabulous Panama Canal Railway, which we took from the Balboa area of Panama City on the Pacific to Colón on the Atlantic, and back, running coast-to-coast each way in 55 minutes.

 
 

So what about a north coast for North America. Well, that’s surprising, and it doesn’t have to be as far north as you might be thinking. Not including the arctic islands, we have a north coast way in the north atop each of the two “arms”, but then the north coast dips considerably southward in Hudson Bay. Churchill is on the SW side of the Bay, and the Bay--and north coast--runs somewhat further south even beyond Churchill. But the north coast goes even further south than that, since James Bay juts out to the SE, coming much closer to Montréal than people sometimes think. So taking a train to Churchill--and, perhaps surprisingly, there is one that does go that far north--is indeed reaching the fourth and final coast of North America by train.

 
 

Then there’s also the matter of extreme contrasts within one year. In June 2006 (2006/6) I went to Spitsbergen reaching 80° N, and then in November 2006 (2006/15) to Antarctica, where we reached 65° S. Those were the two most geographically extreme trips within one year. On the other hand, this year there will be temperature difference, since in March I crossed the Equator on the Amazon (2011/13) and in October I’ll be in the Subarctic in Churchill. Still, on the equator it was very comfortable, and October in Churchill--it’s subarctic weather and not arctic--may or may not be extremely cold. We’ll see.

 
 

Formation of Canada   While drawing some parallels between visiting Australia and visiting North America it occurs to me that, while we spent quite a bit of time discussing the settlement and early growth of the US (2009/21-25) and of Australia (2010/10-11), after many visits and references to Canada (see next paragraph), we’ve only discussed bits and pieces of its background, much of it having to do with the American Revolution and how the situation of the loyalists had a deep effect on the settlement of (anglophone) Canada. But we’ve left out a lot of interesting developments, particularly about the confederation of Canada and how Canada grew after that. It seems this is a good time to rectify that. But first let’s take an initial look--we’ll come back to it--at this excellent map of Canada.

 
 

[While recent discussions about loyalists are easy to find on this website, I can also point out 2005/6: “World by Rail via Siberia II: Canada”, including Montreal and Vancouver; 2005/12: “Yukon”; “Klondike”; 2008/21 “Victoria”. In addition, 1968-1969 were the two summers of extensive camping trips around North America, including Canada from Newfoundland to British Columbia; an additional rail connection from Jasper on “The Skeena” to Prince Rupert to get the Alaska ferry, and stopping on the Deutschland in 2000 in St John’s, Newfoundland, PEI, and Halifax.]

 
 

ABORIGINALS All settlement areas had First Peoples already living in them. New Zealand probably does the best at integrating Maori culture into the national psyche, and Australia pays considerable homage to its aboriginal peoples. Somehow in North America too many of us glide over the aboriginal peoples and picture life having started at the time of the settlements. I recall it being noteworthy that indigenous culture is respected at Gay Head on Martha’s Vineyard (2011/18). We have here at least some statistics about the indigenous peoples of Canada.

 
 

Both genetic and archeological studies indicate First Nation habitation in the northern Yukon starting 26,500 years ago, in British Columbia starting 11,500 years ago, and in southern Ontario from 9,500 years ago. The aboriginal population in the late 1400’s is estimated to have been between widely divergent parameters, between 200,000 and 2,000,000. Canada now estimates the population today to be a half million.

 
 

The Pacific Northwest Coast developed a high population density of aboriginal peoples, so that at the time of European arrival, almost half the indigenous peoples of modern Canada lived there. Smallpox in the 1770’s killed off at least 30% of them, followed by other epidemics. One in 1862 killed off 50% of the native population.

 
 

PRE-CONFEDERATION: TO 1867 We will jump to European settlement only to show how the French and British presence in North America led up to Canadian confederation. To this end, we refer to 2011/17, where we had a section called 1713-1763-1783, since those three dates, separated by five and two decades respectively, were decisive in the relationship between New France and Britain, that is to say, between proto-Canada and the proto-US. In 1713 the Treaty of Utrecht ended the War of Spanish Succession (don’t ask--look it up if you’re interested), in 1763 the Treaty of Paris [1763] ended the Seven Years’ War, and in 1783 the Treaty of Paris [1783] ended the American Revolutionary War. All had effects on North American geography.

 
 

We can start at a point before all three of those dates with this map of North America in 1702, which includes modern state and provincial borders as a guide. What do we have?

 
 

At the bottom we have in orange some northern extremities of New Spain (Nueva España), whose center is off the map in Mexico City. Along the east coast we have in red the rudiments of the Thirteen Colonies of Britain. It’s very odd that the term “New England”, which is parallel to “New Spain” and “New France”, never got applied to the whole region, but has always been limited to the areas centered around Boston, which in modern times covers the northeasternmost six states only. Actually, from the beginning, the center of the Thirteen Colonies was in the four settlement areas within the corridor of Boston-New York-Philadelphia, which is today the Northeast Corridor.

 
 

But we’re here to look at New France (Nouvelle-France), which consisted of five separate colonies, each with its own administration. We’ll talk about the two contested colonies in the north, Rupert’s Land and Newfoundland, later--both became part of modern Canada, but were never central to its earliest history. The other three were the colonies of Canada, Acadia, and Louisiana.

 
 

The heart of New France was the Colony of Canada running along the Saint Lawrence River Valley and extending to the Great Lakes. For easier reference, we’ll call this colony Canada-SL. The name “Canada” is linked firmly to this area, since it comes from a Saint Lawrence Iroquoian word “kanata”, meaning “village” or “settlement”. Canada-SL was the most developed colony of New France, and it was divided into three districts, each with its own government: Québec, Trois-Rivières, and Montréal, shown on the above map. The governor of the district of Québec was also the governor-general of all of New France, which reflects on that city’s importance today. Canada-SL was so highly developed as compared to the other colonies that sometimes the names “Canada” and “New France (Nouvelle-France)” were often used interchangeably. The area of Canada-SL remains the heart of modern Canada.

 
 

Acadia (Acadie) was an entirely different colony from Canada-SL, and should be understood as such. Just because Canada today is united as it is doesn’t mean there was any early relationship between Acadia and Canada-SL. On this map Louisiana (Louisiane) was just beginning to be developed as a southern extension of the northern colonies.

 
 

But let’s look at the realities of the map: we may talk of New Spain, New England, and New France, but what we’re really looking at is proto-Mexico, proto-US, and proto-Canada. The first two one may have expected, but not the third, given today that Canada is primarily an anglophone country with a francophone minority. However, it begins to become obvious that in actuality, the earliest foundation of the country was indeed French.

 
 

We are in for a shock when we see the same map updated about a half-century to show North America in 1750, just four years before the decisive Seven Years’ War. As for New Spain, Florida over time became British, then Spanish again, and then was finally ceded to the US in 1819; the other Mexican lands later also became part of the US. The British Thirteen Colonies here have also expanded somewhat inland. But the biggest surprise involves New France.

 
 

First, after the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713, the disputed areas of Rupert’s Land around Hudson Bay, and Newfoundland, have become definitively British, and would become parts of Canada in the future. That would seem to leave us with three provinces of New France, except that most of the coast of Acadia has also been lost to Britain, becoming peninsular Nova Scotia (but not yet Île-Royale/Cape Breton Island [with Louisbourg fortress]), which remained French a little longer. But Canada-SL has exploded in size, as has Louisiana, which in actuality went much further west.

 
 

[In that regard, I have to show the same map--actually, it’s only a similar one--from French Wikipedia. The reason it shows Louisiana properly running as far west as it should is because this map doesn’t profess to be from just 1750, it shows the maximum extent over time of New France between 1534-1803, the latter year being the year of the sale of Louisiana to the US. It also shows Rupert’s land as extending further north and west, and shows it and Newfoundland (Terre-Neuve) as having been French at one time or another, not necessarily at the same time as other places. The large number of forts shown is of interest, made even more interesting by the comment at the bottom that the map shows about 60, while in reality there were up to 150 forts in New France.]

 
 

But let’s disregard that maximum extent of New France and follow the 1750 map above. Canada-SL had spread from its heart in the Saint Lawrence Valley NE to present-day Labrador and NW to present-day Manitoba. To that extent alone it begins to resemble modern-day Canada. But south and SW of the Great Lakes, the two parts of a nascent Louisiana saw an extreme expansion in size, notably in Lower Louisiana (Basse-Louisiane), which was the lower Mississippi Valley to the Gulf Coast, and Upper Louisiana (Haute-Louisiane) the upper Mississippi watershed south of the Great Lakes. The area of vast Upper Louisiana that was actually settled was known as Illinois Country (Pays des Illinois), since it centered on modern-day Illinois, extending west into Missouri and east into Indiana. (This explains why places like Vincennes IN, Terre Haute IN, and Ste Genevieve MO have French names.)

 
 

Our second date, 1763, was the end of the Seven Years’ War, which was a global war between 1756 and 1763 that involved most of the great powers of the time. It’s been referred to as the real first world war, and involved Europe, the West African coast, India, the Philippines, Central America, and North America. In actuality, the part of that war that took place in North America started two years earlier, running nine years from 1754 to 1763. It couldn’t have been called the Nine Years’ War, since that name was already taken. In most countries, the North American conflict is included under the name Seven Years’ War. However, in the US, often used is the confusing name French and Indian War, something that makes no sense (and always confused me), since the British side also used Native American allies. For those going down that path, maybe they should call it the French and British War, since that explains exactly what it was all about, and leave the Indians out of it entirely. Still, many US scholars and historians, for the sake of conformity, use the international name, Seven Years’ War, regardless of theater, to include the confusing nine-year F+I War, which we will also do here.

 
 

Hypothetical One: No Seven Years’ War in North America To show how the Seven years’ War was such a turning point in North American history, let’s consider the possibility of what North America would look like today if the Seven Years’ War had not happened at all. We can do that by projecting the 1750 map into 2011. (1) Florida and parts of the US Southwest would still be parts of Mexico. (2) The British Thirteen Colonies would remain a phenomenon of the east coast of North America, limited from westward expansion by New France. Either the Thirteen would be today separate countries, which is what happened with the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America, or perhaps the Thirteen would have joined together (possible, but less likely, without a common foe) in a peaceful manner similar to the confederation of Canada in the 19C. If the Thirteen DID unify under British rule, perhaps the only other two British North American colonies at this point, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, would have been included. (3) Assuming eventual independence of its former colonies, New France could have become three other francophone countries, huge Louisiana, huge Canada-SL, and compact Acadia.

 
 

Hypothetical Two: The French win the Seven Years’ War in North America Check the 1750 map again: the Spanish area would be little affected, and so Florida would have remained part of Mexico. But if France had won the war, it would have taken over all British colonies. Louisiana and Canada-SL would have remained the same, but Acadia would have taken back Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Prince Rupert’s Land might have been restored, so that New France would be back to its five original colonies. The fate of anglophones, particularly in Nova Scotia, but also in Newfoundland, would remain to be seen, but might be similar to that of the minority francophones in New Brunswick today.

 
 

But the above deals only with returning its former territories to New France. What about the Thirteen Colonies, which had had no French background at all? They would have become either thirteen provinces, or perhaps one large one, but with French as the primary language. Picture the situation of French (especially in Québec) in Canada today, and that would have been the situation of English the Thirteen Colonies as a province of an otherwise francophone New France.

 
 

The Reality: The British win the Seven Years’ War This third possibility is what really did happen in 1763--the British won, and took over New France. That would explain why the Canadian French name for the Seven Years’ War (F+I War) is La Guerre de la Conquête (The War of Conquest).

 
 

The population differences are surprising. New France at this point had over 70,000 inhabitants, a huge increase from earlier in the century, and its population was heavily concentrated in the Saint Lawrence River Valley (Canada-SL), and to some extent in the remnants of Acadia. But the British colonies combined greatly outnumbered them with over a million (one source) or 1.5 million (another source) between Georgia and Newfoundland. It is ironic that a substantial number of those in the British colonies were French Huguenots. Canada-SL and the remnants of Acadia were among the colonies Britain acquired in 1763, and from 1755 until then, Britain deported Acadians to make way for British settlement. (See 2008/4 “Evangeline”.)

 
 

This map shows the territorial changes in 1763 based on the Treaty of Paris ending the Seven Years’ War. It’s a fascinating map, with Britain in possession of all of North America east of the Mississippi, but remember, what you see here lasted only two decades. Red are the previous British areas: the Thirteen Colonies, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Rupert’s Land. Yellow is the Spanish gain of Louisiana west of the Mississippi in 1763. Spain sold it back to France in 1800, and in 1803, the US bought it as the Louisiana Purchase (in green). Back on the 1763 map, pink are the British gains. Let’s start with Florida, which Britain got from Spain, but just for 20 years; it went back to Spain with the Treaty of Paris in 1783, and was finally ceded by Spain to the US in 1819. Thus, the Louisiana Purchase and Florida aided US expansion in the early 19C. But let’s go back to 1763 to see what happened with proto-US and proto-Canada by looking at Britain’s acquisitions, also in pink, from France: the rest of Acadia, Canada-SL, and both Upper Louisiana (Illinois Country) and Lower Louisiana east of the Mississippi.

 
 

In the same year as the Treaty, George III issued the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which did three things worth mentioning here. (1) It drew a Proclamation Line dividing its old and the new lands, that is, between the Thirteen Colonies and the lands to the west. (2) Beyond this Line, and extending to the Ohio River and Florida, it established an Indian Reserve, which lasted just two decades. And most significantly for the future Canada it (3) renamed Canada-SL the Province of Québec, whose borders were extended by the Québec Act of 1774 to include the northernmost parts of Upper Louisiana as well, that is, south of the Great Lakes, and including Illinois Country and the Ohio River Valley. This Province of Québec I’ll refer to as (Greater) Québec, since modern Québec is much smaller. When you look at a map of the result, you’ll recognize a nascent Canada. It doesn’t include Acadia or the other northern provinces, and is in 1774 at its greatest 18C extent, reaching south of the Great Lakes (a situation that would last only nine years, to 1783), and is named with the Q-word rather than the C-word, but this is the country to the north of the US at an early high point.

 
 

Hypothetical Three: The American Revolution Doesn’t Take Place In this scenario, the Maritimes, Newfoundland, and Rupert’s Land are separate countries, Canada includes all the Great lakes and reaches down to face the Kentucky area (in the Indian Reserve) on one side and Spanish (perhaps later Mexican) Louisiana on the other. There is no room for any national expansion at this tripoint by any of the three.

 
 

[There are two additional items of interest regarding these land changes. When France realized it had to give up territory after the war, it chose to give up New France if Britain returned Guadeloupe, which it had captured in 1759. France felt that the lucrative sugar crops in Guadeloupe were worth it.

 
 

In addition, one might think at first that France, while keeping its Caribbean colonies, totally relinquished any North American ones, but that is not correct. 25 km (15 mi) off the south coast of Newfoundland to this day is Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, shown here with the international border and its dark-blue territorial waters within the light-blue Canadian ones. Miquelon is larger, but the town of Saint-Pierre is on the smaller island of Saint-Pierre, where we stayed one night after taking the passenger ferry from Newfoundland. They used French, not Canadian, currency, and the town, which I remember in fog, was more French in atmosphere than Canadian.]

 
 

We have now inched along from 1763 toward the above-mentioned Québec Act of 1774, right at the edge of the American Revolution, which had almost as much of an effect on proto-Canada as it did on the proto-US. It was in this period that Britain did something rather unwise, which resulted in the US becoming an independent country in the 18C, and something rather wise, which kept Canada apart from the US, eventually becoming an independent country in the 19C.

 
 

When we discussed Lexington (2011/21), we said that the Seven Years’ War was so expensive--I just now learned that that war nearly doubled Britain’s national debt--that the British government made the disastrously unwise decision to heavily tax the Thirteen Colonies for the “privilege” of remaining British, and not becoming French. This taxation (Stamp Act, Tea Party), along with other grievances, led to the American Revolution and the US as an independent country.

 
 

But the wise decision was the above-mentioned Québec Act of 1774. Do not be misled that the name refers to Québec City, and certainly not to modern, relatively small Québec. It refers to the so-called “Province of Québec” which we’re also calling (Greater) Québec (as in two maps earlier), which in reality is an early form of modern Canada, but using the Q-word. It would have been so much easier if they’d called the Québec Act the Canada Act and not played games with the Q-word and the C-word. In any case, the Act wisely gave the francophones--who were 99% of the population, or about 99,000 people--their first Charter of Rights: the right to French language and culture, to use French civil law along with British law, and sanctioned freedom of religion, allowing the Catholic Church to remain. Also, in restoring the Ohio Valley to them, as mentioned earlier, it reserved the territory for the fur trade. In many ways this Act “restored” New France.

 
 

While the French presumably would have preferred to remain governed by France, the second choice, being governed by a Britain that gave them what France would have given them anyway, allowed them to remain under a known, powerful country that guaranteed their rights and customs. Why would they take a poor third choice and become allied with the Thirteen Colonies, whose destiny in its Revolutionary War was unknown, and who may or may not have been so generous as to allowing them what the British did? In my opinion, the Québec Act of 1774 is the wise move that kept (Greater) Québec (=Canada) on the British side and formed the basis for modern Canada. Of course those francophones probably never expected the arrival of the loyalists and other settlers from Britain and Ireland in such numbers as to eventually make them a minority in modern Canada.

 
 

We’ve moved from 1763 to 1774, so let’s look at this rather clear map of Eastern North America in 1775, the year of Lexington and Concord, and once again consider Hypothetical Three, that the British don’t antagonize the Thirteen Colonies with taxation and that the American Revolution doesn’t take place. Look again. The Thirteen Colonies exist only on their coastal strip, separated by new British acquisitions by that Proclamation Act of 1763. The Québec Act makes for happy francophones in that British colony, lying next to British Nova Scotia, the British Indian Reserve, and now, British Florida. Hypothetically, this whole pink area could have become Canada one day. On the other hand Spain (proto-Mexico) lies west of the Mississippi from New Orleans to Saint Louis to the site of Minneapolis. If these were the modern countries, travel westbound from Virginia would have brought you first to Canada and then to Mexico!

 
 

But alas, the Brits taxed, the Yanks revolted, and we come to our third date, 1783, and, ending the American Revolutionary War, the next Treaty of Paris, which gave the entire pink area below the Great Lakes (except Florida) to the United States. You will recall that Florida went back to Spain that year, but was then ceded to the US by 1819. (The) Louisiana (Purchase) went back to France in 1800 to be sold to the US by 1803. These changes all allowed unimpeded US westward expansion. The area that would become Canada now lay only to the north of the Great Lakes.

 
 

Then the name game started again and Q flipped back to C. What had been the “Province of Québec”, or our (Greater) Québec--and we’re still not talking about the Maritimes or any other provinces--went back to the name Canada, a name they liked well enough so that by 1791 they had two, giving us at this point “The Canadas”. The Constitutional Act of 1791 engineered that split into two separate British colonies to accommodate the loyalists and give them their own anglophone region called Upper Canada. It was upstream on the Saint Lawrence, and included the closest Great Lake, Lake Ontario. (Therefore, upon Confederation in 1867, it became Ontario.) This left a francophone Lower Canada downstream, which included Québec City. (Therefore, upon Confederation, it became Québec. [They apparently couldn’t resist recycling that name once more, just to confuse amateur historians.]) This split, under the names Upper and Lower Canada, remained for just a half-century, 1791-1841, at which point The Canadas were united into the Province of Canada, a name that remained until Canadian Confederation in 1867. This map shows the Province of Canada (1841-1867), and the two areas that joined to form it, Upper Canada (orange) and Lower Canada (green). But: there was one more internal name change. With the formation of the Province of Canada in 1841, Upper Canada was renamed Canada West and Lower Canada became Canada East, names they kept until Canadian confederation in 1867, when they became Ontario and Québec respectively, finally ending the name game. Clear?

 
 

CONFEDERATION: 1864-1867 After the 1783 Treaty of Paris definitively shaped the beginnings of the United States, the British provinces that eventually became Canada remained British provinces for close to a century. To be exact, it was 84 years from then to Canadian confederation. While the US was formed militarily, Canada was formed through peaceful negotiation. But why did it happen at all?

 
 

In addition to internal interest in change, it’s the external pressures that are the most compelling, both British and American, and covering defense and expansion. Britain at this time created a new colonial policy, in which it was decided that they no longer wanted to maintain troops in their colonies. This alone has to cause an ironic smile, given Lexington and Concord in 1775. So if defense became an issue, what would it be in the 1860’s that would cause particular concern? The American Civil War, of course, where the populous neighbor to the immediate south was potentially going to split in two during the years 1861-1865. How might that affect the disunited British provinces to the north?

 
 

Then of course there was the issue of expansion. Given the fact that both the US and Canada eventually reached the Pacific (and drew that long, straight border between them to keep themselves separated as they did it), and also given the fact that in 1774 proto-Canada reached the Gulf of Mexico (see map above) blocking US expansion, what if the US expanded in such a way as to block the British colonies’ westward expansion? As a matter of fact, just such a scenario was in the works. The Russian tsar wanted to sell Alaska, but was adamant about not selling it to the British. You can imagine how Canadian/US history might have been different if Alaska had become another British Colony on the Pacific like British Columbia. He ended up selling it to the US for $7,200,000, whose Senate approved the sale at the instigation of US Secretary of State William Seward. The sale was completed on 1 August 1867, at which point Seward also had hopes of getting the Colony of British Columbia (founded just nine years earlier, in 1858) to join the US as well, effectively connecting Alaska to the other US states, and also effectively cutting off the northern British colonies (proto-Canada) from the Pacific entirely. While that never happened, it should be noted that Canadian Confederation finally took place just one month to the day before the Alaska sale, on 1 July 1867, so expansion issues were definitely a factor on peoples’ minds.

 
 

Charlottetown Conference There were several conferences that led to confederation, the first one being in a perhaps unlikely location, Prince Edward Island. Looking at the map of unified Canada today that doesn’t really seem all that unusual, but consider that Canada lay along the Saint Lawrence River, and PEI was in ex-Acadia. In other words, while it can glibly be said that “it’s all Canada anyway”, in reality, the confederation of Canada started OUTSIDE of the Canada of the time (the Province of Canada), in another, separate colony, the former Acadia.

 
 

But why? And how did that happen? Simply because the purpose of the PEI conference in Charlottetown, its capital, was planned to have absolutely nothing to do with unifying all the British provinces. It had to do with the purely local issue of putting Humpty-Dumpty back together again.

 
 

What is today the Maritime Provinces was under the French one unified area, Acadia / Acadie (actually larger, since it included part of the US state of Maine). We consider the Maritimes to be three provinces, but historically, they have to be considered four, and before that, just one. On this contemporary map, New Brunswick is in green, PEI in red, and Nova Scotia in blue, but that large circular area to the NE that seems barely attached to the rest is in fact NOT attached at all, but is Cape Breton Island, and has in the past been independent of Nova Scotia, making it the fourth element here.

 
 

This is how it went. Peninsular Nova Scotia became British on the first of our dates, 1713, and the rest of Acadia joined it on the next date, 1763. At this point, ex-Acadia was ALL Nova Scotia; phrased differently, the two islands, Cape Breton and Prince Edward, and what later became NB, were all part of NS. This is Humpty-Dumpty before it was broken apart. (Historical names: Île Saint-Jean became Saint John Island became Prince Edward Island; Île Royale became Cape Breton Island.)

 
 

The area was all one single British colony, Nova Scotia, for only six years, 1763-9. Then the Humpty-Dumpty syndrome began. PEI was split away from NS first, in 1769, then NB in 1784, making three colonies. Then PEI was merged back into NS several years later, bringing it back down to two colonies. It was the influx of the loyalists in the 1780’s that shattered Humpty-Dumpty the most, into four separate colonies, NS, NB, PEI (Saint John’s Island) and Cape Breton Island. But by the 1820’s re-assembly began again, when Cape Breton Island was brought back as part of Nova Scotia, since NS coveted the coal resources that the island had. So in modern times, we’re still back down to three--but not one.

 
 

We can refer to this area as ex-Acadia, or ex-Greater Nova Scotia, but it’s easiest to use the common current name, the Maritime Provinces, or simply the Maritimes. It’s simple, is recognized by everyone--and makes no sense at all in the modern world. “Maritime” means “of the sea”, and all of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories, except Alberta and Saskatchewan, border the sea, and are by definition “maritime”. But to understand why just this area has common use of the word is simple. Just go back in time. “Canada” was located on the Saint Lawrence and Great Lakes, both freshwater. Other than distant Newfoundland, ex-Acadia was the only maritime area inland Canada had, hence the exclusive (but historical) use of the word for this area.

 
 

The reason we’ve discussed the Maritimes is because that’s where Canadian unity began. However, no one had Canadian unity in mind. The purpose of the Charlottetown Conference was to discuss a Maritime Union, that is, putting the three remaining splinter colonies back into one single one, and that’s all. (It never happened, although it’s still discussed today, since it would be the fifth-largest province by population.) That’s why a conference was held in Charlottetown, one that ended up going WAY beyond what was originally intended.

 
 

In 1864 the Premiers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island scheduled a conference in Charlottetown for 1 September to discuss Maritime Union, that is, the union of their three colonies. Then a very unusual thing happened. The Premier of the Province of Canada, John A. Macdonald, surprised the three premiers by asking if the Province of Canada could be included in on the negotiations. They agreed, but pointed out that the agenda had already been set, although in time, the local agenda was indeed put aside and expanded to a new, higher level.

 
 

Looking back in time, given that Canada and the Maritimes were separate, and somewhat distant, colonies, it’s still remains odd to think that the Maritime leaders and the Canadians didn’t really know each other that well. The Charlottetown Conference helped them to get acquainted and then to start making big plans. Still, reaction in the press to the conference was mixed. In the Maritimes there was concern about the smooth-talking Canadians making charming speeches were outmaneuvering and outsmarting the delegates from the Maritimes. Frankly, I think that must have been true.

 
 

Québec Conference If you invite me to your tea party (or even if I invited myself), then I have to invite you back to one of my own. On his return, Macdonald arranged for Québec City to host a second conference and sent invitations to delegates from all the Maritimes to join with United Canada delegates. Newfoundland was also invited to this and other 19C discussions, but historically, Newfoundland remained very aloof and indeed didn’t join Canada until 1949. Otherwise, one perceives a sense of urgency, since the Québec Conference began on 10 October 1864, less than six weeks after the start of the Charlottetown Conference.

 
 

Nevertheless, one also notes that Canada was more interested in the union than the others. After the Québec Conference, the legislature of the Province of Canada passed a bill approving the union, but the others were less interested. Two years passed until Nova Scotia and New Brunswick both finally passed union resolutions in 1866. Newfoundland’s legislature did not, which is not surprising, but neither did the legislature of PEI, which is. Even though the first conference had taken place in PEI, it missed its opportunity to be one of the founding provinces of a United Canada. Instead, PEI had to make do with becoming one lf the later add-ons to the 1867 union, finally joining six years later, in 1873.

 
 

London Conference The ball was now rolling, and in December 1866, sixteen delegates from the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick (but not PEI), sailed for London to meet with Queen Victoria. After the holidays, the delegates reconvened in January 1867 and began drafting the British North America Act.

 
 

[Silly me: the name of that Act always implied to me that the British dictated the formation of Canada; I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought it was the British + North America Act instead of referring to the colonies as British North America, which means it was meant to be British North America + Act (see below about a change of this name). Instead, here it was proto-Canadians sitting around a table in London who formulated it, which is not only much more logical and sensible, but a great relief to know that yes, Canada formed itself! But on the other hand, those proto-Canadian delegates WERE still British at the moment they drafted the Act, so the name, oddly, does make sense in either interpretation. And a mischevious thought: might there have been among those delegates negotiating the separation of Canada from Britain any descendants of loyalists that had left the Thirteen Colonies in order to remain British?]

 
 

In drafting the Act, the delegates agreed that the new country should be called Canada, that Canada West should be renamed Ontario and that Canada East should be renamed Québec. But there was much disagreement as to how to designate Canada. They rejected Kingdom of Canada, even though the royal connections remained, the Queen still being Head of State today. They even rejected Confederation of Canada. Then someone suggested a biblical quote, from Psalm 72:8 of the King James Version: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea . . .” Dominion means here “control”, “authority”, or “sovereignty”, all abstract meanings; the delegates reworked it into a concrete meaning of “territory” or “realm” and the result was the Dominion of Canada. The word was also used later for other self-governing parts of the British Empire, such as the Dominion of Newfoundland (until it joined Canada in 1949). Now that I’ve found the entire quote from Psalms, I see something else nicely deriving from it. Canada’s national motto is “From Sea to Sea”, in French “D’un océan à l’autre”. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes latinized to “A Mari Usque Ad Mare”.

 
 

The drafting was completed in February 1867, presented to Queen Victoria, promptly approved by the House of Lords and the House of Commons and received royal assent. The date of union was set for 1 July 1867. This is the official proclamation. It’s also worth noting that, given that the components were referred to as British provinces before confederation, the subdivisions of Canada to this day are still called provinces. In addition, with the Province of Canada subdividing into two again, the original provinces can be considered Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick (with PEI waiting out in the cold.)

 
 

Over time, Canada has asserted its political autonomy from Britain. Apparently I wasn’t the only one being confused by the name of the British North America Act, and it’s now been renamed the Constitution Act, 1867, and is a major part of Canada’s Constitution. The British Parliament also passed the Canada Act, 1982 at the request of Canada’s federal government, since the Constitution Act, 1867 was a British law that could only be amended by the British Parliament. The Canada Act ended the necessity of Canada having to request that the British Parliament amend Canada’s Constitution instead of Canada itself. The special word Canada invented was to “patriate” Canada’s Constitution, on the basis that it couldn’t be “repatriated”, since that word involves returning, which wasn’t the case, since it had never been there. So the “patriation” of Canada’s Constitution was its homecoming to Canada, and thus Canada acquired full sovereignty.

 
 

Canada’s national holiday is celebrated on 1 July, since that was the date in 1867 that the Constitution Act became effective. It is curious that that is only three days from the national holiday of the United States, 4 July, since that was the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776. Two peas in a pod.

 
 

Over time, Canada had been shortening its name in official documents and treaties from Dominion of Canada to just Canada. That change was reflected in 1982 when the national holiday was renamed from Dominion Day / Jour de la Confédération to Canada Day / Fête du Canada.

 
 

Another example of two peas in a pod--having a large group of national founders. The national founders of the United States are referred to as the “Founding Fathers”, although there are two subsets, the Signers (of the Declaration of Independence) and the Framers (of the US Constitution). This 1940 painting by Howard Chandler Christy is called Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States. It is, like all others of this type, fanciful.

 
 

In Canada, all the delegates who attended the three Confederation Conferences, in Charlottetown and Québec in 1864 and in London in 1866, are called the “Fathers of Confederation”. In 1884, Robert Harris painted a famous picture commonly referred to as The Fathers of Confederation, which was just as fanciful as any other historical painting, but especially so, since he amalgamated in one painting attendees and sites from both the Charlottetown and Québec conferences (presumably they were the same that went to London). This seminal painting hung in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, but was unfortunately destroyed in a fire in 1916. However, it was fortunate that in 1885, one year after it was painted, this photo was made of The Fathers of Confederation, which, even though it’s in black-and-white, we can use as a reference.

 
 

I have a mischevious question. It’s the politically correct norm to refer to the Confederation of Canada as the union of three provinces (PEI added later) with equal status, and that is completely correct. But consider this. The Province of Canada used the name Canada beforehand, and the whole country used that name afterward. Sir John A. Macdonald had been Premier of the Province of Canada beforehand, and he was the first Prime Minister of the Dominion of Canada afterward. Putting political correctness aside, doesn’t it look like Canada quite successfully annexed the Maritimes? I’m fully for what happened, but isn’t this interesting statecraft? Remember that he invited himself to Charlottetown, the local press was wary of the Canadian delegates, and the Maritime legislatures were slow to agree, and PEI didn’t at all, at first. I think Macdonald was a clever man who singlehandedly parlayed an attempt at regional union into a national union with the Province of Canada at its head. Great move.

 
 

This is a photo of Sir John A. Macdonald. It’s from the Brady-Handy Archive, which may mean it had been taken by the famed photographer of the American Civil War Mathew Brady himself, but possibly by an assistant, since I have not been able to date the photograph or find anything else about it. It’s a striking portrait, but the first thing I began to wonder about was what he was doing with his right hand. Was he imitating Napoleon’s famous gesture? A bit of research led me to understand that that wasn’t the case at all. Just as today, a gentleman might have his portrait done while posing with his hand in his jacket pocket, during the 18C and 19C, what is called the hand-in-waistcoat was a common gesture found in men’s portraiture. Most famous for it was indeed Napoléon, as in this 1812 painting by David (no, he did not have a stomach ache, as is sometimes joked), but this next portrait is of Napoléon’s father, the Corsican lawyer and politician Carlo Buonaparte, and, continuing on that theme, this is Napoléon’s opponent at Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington, as a young man in India in 1804. So neither Macdonald nor Napoléon uniquely used the hand-in-waistcoat gesture.

 
 

POST-CONFEDERATION: SINCE 1867 Canadian Confederation has been the central point of this discussion, but we need to continue briefly to discuss additional expansion beyond the original provinces. Since we’re already aware of PEI and Newfoundland in the East, we need to investigate what happened in “the West and the rest”, the West referring to the lineup of additional provinces along Canada’s southern border from the Great Lakes to the Pacific, and the rest being the territories to the north, in the subarctic and arctic.

 
 

Land Acquisition, 1870 (Also 1880) We begin, finally, with Rupert’s Land, which we referred to earlier as a territory claimed by both New France and Britain. Its size is immense, and covers over one-third of modern Canada. The reason it was so large, and the reason why its borders were so precise, is that it was defined as the Hudson Bay drainage basin, in other words, all rivers and streams flowing into Hudson Bay. Its size can be better estimated by this second map with modern borders. In addition to parts of today’s Northwest Territory and Nunavut, it covered huge swaths of modern Québec and Ontario, all of Manitoba, most of Saskatchewan, and half of Alberta. Also note that it significantly includes territory now in the US. A tiny bit of Montana in the west is not significant, but the area of the Red River of the North is. This is the only area of the US that drains north, eventually into the Arctic Ocean. While it includes an insignificant bit of South Dakota, it includes large parts of Minnesota and North Dakota.

 
 

Rupert’s Land was a trading territory. King Charles II granted a charter to the whole of the Hudson Bay drainage basin, under the name of Rupert’s Land, to the Hudson’s Bay Company (hence the name of the company), and Rupert’s Land was nominally owned by the HBC for 200 years (1670-1870). (The bay is best called Hudson Bay [compare: Hudson River], but sometimes appears as Hudson’s Bay.) Rupert’s Land was named after Prince Rupert of the Rhine (Ruprecht von der Pfalz), a nephew of Charles I and the first Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company. Prince Rupert BC, the port and transportation hub of northern British Columbia, is also named for him.

 
 

Further northwest than Rupert’s Land was the area in which the appropriately named North West Company (NWC) was active. It was a fur-trading business whose headquarters were in Montréal starting in 1779. It competed successfully with the HBC, and with a lot of money to be made, tensions increased. After several armed skirmishes between them, the two companies were forced to merge in 1821. At that point, the British Parliament applied the laws of Upper Canada to Rupert’s Land, and gave enforcement power to the HBC, making the HBC quasi-governmental in nature.

 
 

That was the situation at the time of Confederation in 1867. Then things began to move in the center of the continent when Canada acquired from the Crown its North-Western Territory, which extended from Rupert’s Land around British Columbia and up to Alaska , and also acquired from the HBC Rupert’s Land itself. It merged them and named them the Northwest Territories (note variation from the earlier name), and assumed control in 1870. However, the HBC retained its most successful trading posts, 1/20 of the best farmland in the region, and got financial compensation as well. (In 1880, the British supplemented this land acquisition to completion by also assigning all North American Arctic islands to Canada.) From this huge territory, except for British Columbia, ALL additional provinces and territories of Canada in the West and in the Arctic were created, as well as extensions of Québec and Ontario in the East (see below).

 
 

The Colony of British Columbia On the Pacific, British Columbia was an early entity, distant from the eastern provinces. It became a British colony in 1858, so it not only predated the Rupert’s Land/Northwest Territories activity of 1870-1880, it even predated Canadian Confederation in 1867. (Continuing the two peas in a pod theme, California was also an early entity on the Pacific, distant from other states in the eastern US.) The name British Colombia unfortunately no longer serves any intended purpose. The name was chosen by Queen Victoria based on the Columbia River separating Oregon and Washington. She considered the Oregon Territory that went to the US “American Columbia” (see 2008/20 “Oregon Territory”), and so the northern area was to her British Columbia. Now, the name is hugely outdated for three reasons: (1) the area is no longer British, but Canadian (Canadian Columbia, anyone?); (2) there never has been a contrasting American Columbia, so mentioning a nationality at all is unnecessary; and (3) even calling it just Colombia makes no sense, since the area doesn’t border the Columbia River it’s named after, as it once might have. In any case, British Columbia, which had existed only on the mainland when it became a colony in 1858, and Vancouver Island, which had becomd a colony earlier, in 1849, united in 1866, still predating Confederation.

 
 

The Red River Settlement and Rebellion So what do we have surrounding Canada at this point, 1870, three years after Confederation? Three established, still independent entities, British Columbia in the West and, in the East, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, plus a vast central Northwest Territory (to be supplemented in 1880) reaching down to the US border. We also have the first crisis facing the new government, although one that ended positively in the formation of the first new province after Confederation. It involves the area discussed earlier, the southernmost part of the former Rupert’s Land, the Red River of the North and its valley, which today straddles the international border, with North Dakota and Minnesota on the US side, and Manitoba, including Winnipeg, on the Canadian side. Rather surprisingly this far west, a key element was the old francophone/anglophone rivalry.

 
 

Back in 1811 a colonization attempt called the Red River Settlement was made along the Red River by impoverished Scotsmen, on land granted by the HBC. Remember that by the merger of the HBC and NWC in 1821, the (British) laws of Upper Canada were granted to the HBC, so this was an anglophone, British settlement. However, it was never very successful, due to the river’s frequent flooding, grasshopper plagues, but also due to the rivalry between the HBC and NWC.

 
 

There was also a group in the area called the Métis, who were primarily mixed-blood between aboriginals and French-Canadian fur traders. The Métis were allied with the NWC, which was headquartered in Montréal. (The name Métis in both English and Standard French is pronounced mé.TI [é as in café, I as in ski], but in Québec French it’s pronounced meh.TSISS, with, as we’ve learned, the T becoming TS before I, and the I moving from tense to lax.) In 1816, the Métis nearly succeeded in wiping out the Red River Settlement, yet it was later reëstablished, but with a majority of Catholic, francophone Métis. It grew in size as a commercial center, and traded south with Saint Paul, Minnesota. It also ran steamboats on the Red River.

 
 

When the Canadian government acquired Rupert’s land in 1869, it appointed an anglophone governor, who was vigorously opposed by the Métis inhabitants of the Red River Settlement, which resulted in the Red River Rebellion and in the 1869 establishment by the Métis of a provisional government there, led by their leader Louis Riel. In addition, the trading connections below the border made US annexation a strong possibility. However, Canada and the provisional government soon negotiated an agreement.

 
 

Manitoba 1870 was a busy year for land changes in Canada. Not only did Canada acquire all that new land that year, but also in 1870, the British Parliament (Canada couldn’t do it yet) passed the Manitoba Act, allowing the Red River Settlement to enter the Confederation as the province of Manitoba, the first new one since Confederation. The Act also incorporated some of Riel’s demands for the Métis, such as separate French schools and protection of Catholicism. Owing to its being based on the Red River Valley, the original size of Manitoba was modest, but it was later expanded twice to its present size reaching Hudson Bay. With the establishment of the new province, annexation of the Settlement by the US was now out of the question, although much of the original territory of the Red River Settlement is now part of the US. Still, the story of the Red River Valley is another illustration of two peas in a common pod.

 
 

Québec and Ontario Expansion It always seemed to me that Québec and Ontario were best suited to their original size and placement, Québec along the lower Saint Lawrence, and Ontario along its upper stretches and along its namesake, Lake Ontario, as well as bordering lakes Erie and Huron. But this was not to be, since both were apparently greedily addicted to gigantism once they saw all the land acquired in the center of the continent.

 
 

I would have thought that the area north of the original Québec would have best been suited to become a largely aboriginal territory like Nunavut did become in recent times. Instead, Québec’s borders were spread north in two stages to include the entire mainland area east of Hudson Bay. With these expansions, Québec became the largest Canadian province (way out of proportion to the Maritimes), and the tenth-largest subnational entity worldwide.

 
 

With all the newly available land, Ontario really got greedy and claimed to reach all the way north to the Arctic Ocean and all the way west to the Rocky Mountains. Only the existence of British Columbia prevented it from claiming land all the way to the Pacific. Thank goodness Manitoba came along when it did along the southern border of Canada, since it served as a wall to halt Ontario’s claims beyond it. Ontario’s right to two border extensions to include what is today Northwestern Ontario up to the Manitoba border was determined in 1884 and confirmed by the British Parliament in the Canada (Ontario Boundary) Act, 1889.

 
 

The expansion of the Ontario borders north to Hudson Bay and west to Manitoba included enough territory to have formed one, if not two, more provinces. By itself, Ontario runs along the international border from New York State to Minnesota. With these expansions, Ontario became the second-largest Canadian province and the sixteenth-largest subnational entity worldwide.

 
 

New Provinces after Manitoba Following Manitoba’s lead in 1870, a stream of new provinces joined the confederation, although one holdout waited until the mid-20C. Many were encouraged by rail ‘n’ sail enticements:

 
 
 British Columbia joined Canada the next year, in 1871, by an act of the British Parliament. It was encouraged to join by the promise of a transcontinental railway within ten years.

Two years later, in 1873, the early holdout, Prince Edward Island joined. As part of the terms of union, it was guaranteed a ferry link to the mainland. However, this term was deleted upon completion of the aptly-named Confederation Bridge to the island in 1997. This three-year flurry ended additions for the 19C.

There remained along the southern border a space between British Columbia and Manitoba, and this space was split in two to form Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905 by Acts of Parliament. It was like filling in the last two pieces of a puzzle. Six years later in the US, the Arizona Territory was also split in two to form the states of Arizona and New Mexico in 1912, filling in the last two pieces of a puzzle for the continental US. Two peas in a pod.

And last but not least, the holdout Newfoundland, the oldest (dating from 1583) and sole remaining British North American colony, already its own Dominion, finally joined in 1949, also with a ferry link guaranteed. Labrador, on the mainland, had long been administered by Newfoundland, and so the province was officially renamed Newfoundland and Labrador in 2001. It is the tenth province, all of which are located in the southern part of Canada.
 
 

New Territories In the northern part of Canada there exist only territories, presently three. The granddaddy of them all (and of many provinces) remains the now much more shrunken Northwest Territories. In 1898, after the Klondike Gold Rush in the western end of the Northwest Territories, the Canadian government created the Yukon Territory. In 2002, the word “Territory” was officially removed and the name became Yukon. (There also seems to be an attempt to drop “the” from “the Yukon”, which may be harder to bring about.) Then in 1999, Nunavut, the largest and newest territory, was formed out of the eastern part of the Northwest Territories. Its name from the beginning avoided the word “Territory”. Of the three, only the original Northwest Territories now uses the T-word.

 
 

All the changes since Confederation that we’ve discussed are shown on this animated map. It’s an excellent summary, but unfortunately the animation can’t be paused to review a given change, which can be frustrating. Multiple replays help.

 
 

GEOGRAPHICAL SUMMARY Up to this point, we’ve discussed Canadian history, specific to the formation of the country. Let’s take a look at some geographical information.

 
 

Multiculturalism We’ve spoken of anglophones and francophones, and there are in Canada also speakers of other languages. The following figures are based on the 2006 census, and combine multiple responses along with the more frequent single responses, which increases accuracy. For instance, multiple responses for French/English, French/Other, or English/Other were split, with half of a response going to each category, and those for English/French/Other were split with a third of a response going to each category. “Other” includes numerous indigenous languages, plus many external ones, the only ones of which showed more than 1% being Chinese at 2.6% and Portuguese at 2%.

 
 

In 2006, the total population of Canada was 31,241,446. This included 20,840,743 English speakers, or 66.7% of the population, 6,691,928 French speakers, or 21.4%, and 3,710,529 speakers of other languages, or 11.9%. Rounded out, if you pick 10 Canadians at random, 7 will speak English, 2 French, and 1 “Other”, such as an indigenous language or another world language.

 
 

Population Density In a country where there are so many areas of low population, population density is of particular interest. I don’t have a map showing population density, but let’s go back to this language map we’ve seen before. Its purpose is something else: the brown areas show French speakers, beige, bilingual E+F, and yellow, English speakers. But these colors don’t show density, they just show where there are more speakers than in the white areas. These sparsely populated white areas have less than 0.4 people per km²; that is, you statistically need to search 5 km² (1.9 mi²) to find 2 people. Now, beyond the general guidance of this map, I’ve looked up some statistics:

 
 
 The three territories in the North each have only 0.1% of Canada’s population.

Ontario has 38.7%; Québec has 23.2%; the two gigantic provinces have a total of 61.9% of Canada’s population.

The three Maritimes together total 5.5%; including Newfoundland and Labrador brings it to 7.0%.

The total area from the Great Lakes east has 68.9%.

British Columbia has 13.3%, but of that, 54% is concentrated in greater Vancouver and Victoria.

Alberta has 10.9%, Saskatchewan has 3.1% and Manitoba has 3.7%, all with populations spread out.

Still, metropolitan Winnipeg accounts for 56% of Manitoba’s population.
 
 

As we near the end, let’s once again look at this excellent map of Canada today (click to enlarge).

 
 

Superlatives: The Border Canada has a sea border with Denmark’s Greenland and France’s Saint-Pierre and Miquelon. Its only land border is the common border to its south and northwest with the US. This border is the longest in the world.

 
 

Superlatives: Country Sizes The following two categories are modified repeats of what was said in 2010/12 about Australia, but is appropriate for Canada as well. In land area Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world, the US 3rd, and Australia 6th. But in 2010 population, the US is 3rd (306 million), Canada 36th (34 million), and Australia 53rd (22 million).

 
 

Superlatives: Subnational Entity Sizes We also did a comparison in 2010/12 of subnational entities, that is, country subdivisions such as states, provinces, and territories. Canada’s (old) Northwest Territories used to be the largest subnational entity in the world, stretching from the Yukon to Hudson Bay. Even after the Yukon was carved out of it in 1898 after the gold rush, it was still the largest entity. But when Nunavut was carved out of it in 1999, the statistics changed. Below are states, provinces, and territories of Australia, Canada, and the US, color coded, with their size position out of 50:

 
 
 2 Western Australia
5 Nunavut
6 Queensland
7 Alaska
10 Québec
11 Northern Territory
12 Northwest Territories
16 Ontario
17 South Australia
18 British Columbia
20 New South Wales
27 Texas
28 Alberta
29 Saskatchewan
30 Manitoba
40 Yukon
49 California
 
 

Since the US is so populous, it’s much more finely subdivided, resulting in only Alaska, Texas, and California making the list, so, of the countries we’re discussing, this particular “contest” is really between Australia and Canada. The only Australian states that do NOT make the list are Victoria and Tasmania. The only Canadian provinces that do NOT make the list are the four Atlantic provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland & Labrador. Australia makes the list five times and Canada nine, but then Australia’s entries tend to be crowded near the top of the list, going down to only 20 as opposed to Canada’s 40. As a matter of fact, if, instead of doing the top 50, you’re just doing the top 20, the two would be tied with five each. I’d say it’s a draw between Australia and Canada.

 
 

Quadripoints This paragraph is also a modified repeat, but from 2007/14, where we discussed the well-known US quadripoint called Four Corners, the plus-shaped intersection of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. To see the quadripoint, refer to the last map.

 
 
 Up until recently, while Canada had several tripoints, it had no quadripoints, but it does now. For many years, there had been a tripoint where Manitoba and Saskatchewan met, both facing the Northwest Territories. I understand that surveyors had journeyed into the wilderness to mark this tripoint. But in 1999, the Northwest Territories were divided into two, and the eastern part became Nunavut. To mark the new division, the above-mentioned tripoint had a straight line drawn first north, then at an angle to the northwest, effectively forming a quadripoint at 60°N, 102°W. Although this is a perfectly valid quadripoint, there are two issues that would lessen interest in it. While the US one has four states joining, the Canadian one has two provinces and then just two territories joining. But the main disadvantage to this quadripoint is its remoteness. I wonder if even the surveyors have ventured into the wilderness to bother to update the old tripoint marker.
 
 
 
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